In the evening I attend service at my neighborhood Zen temple, where I count breaths and scan body sensations with my Sangha. During the dharma talk, the priest describes the three marks of existence: dukkha, suffering, anicca, impermanence, and anatta, non-self. He outlines the path by which we stop clinging to our identities, letting go of the delusion of an independently existing self. Upon enlightenment, he informs us, we will awaken to the truth of non-self. No race, no body, no age. No gender. “No eyes no ears no nose no tongue no body no mind,” we chant from the Heart Sutra. Upon awakening, says the priest, we will return to Buddha-nature, free of conditioned arising states. As we come closer to the enlightened mind, we will realize that our minds and bodies are not separate, but different aspects of the same thing. I wonder silently to myself if gender dysphoria—the experience of dissonance between one’s body and mind—in the awakened Buddhist mind, could even exist.
Jey Ehrenhalt on Gender Dysphoria and the Dharma